Thinking About the Unthinkable
Data backup and storage-An obvious part of disaster-recovery preparation is backing up your system to tape and sending the tapes off-site on a daily basis. This has been the mainstay of disaster recovery for many years. Many disaster-recovery plans assume that tapes will be retrieved from off-site storage, sent to a disaster-recovery center and loaded on a recovery computer system restoring business operations to the condition the system was in when the backup was taken.
If you incorporate this strategy into your plan, selecting an off-site storage facility is a key factor along with the physical location of the storage facility. Is it sufficiently removed from your location to ensure that it won't be affected by a major disaster (e.g., earthquake, flood, hurricane, etc.)? Many tape storage facilities market their physical plant with steel reinforced walls, underground concrete bunkers and present the image of an indestructible fortress.
The key questions are: Will your tapes survive a natural disaster? Can you retrieve the tapes in the event of a disaster? How will you transport the tapes to your recovery site?
In the event of a major natural disaster, it may be difficult to gain access to your tapes or transport them to your recovery site. These issues must be carefully assessed when making the decision to select an off-site storage vendor.
You may want to select a vendor with storage locations in the proximity of your recovery site and have your tapes sent there. Some major disaster-recovery companies operate recovery centers all over the country and will only commit to providing resources at one of their centers. If this is your case, locate your tapes in proximity to an airport (possibly in another state) where they can be sent to the recovery site when you're instructed to do so by your disaster-recovery vendor.
A last word on backups is that with the growth of DASD storage in the modern computing world, daily back-ups take longer and methods of short cutting the time are being implemented to back up huge systems.
Saving changed objects or incremental backups are being implemented, complicating your disaster-recovery scenario. If you use an incremental backup strategy, carefully plan how you'll restore your complete system in the event of the unthinkable.
What to restore-In the event of a major disaster, companies are frequently faced with restoring mission-critical systems. Today, e-commerce Web sites generate millions of dollars in revenue. Are these systems mission critical? How about PC-based file and print servers or client/server applications?
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